Bill Wheelhouse

Anchor / Journalist

Ways To Connect

Pre-popped bagged popcorn gets into my snack habit because its only a buck in the office vending machine.  Many other products cost a quarter more.   But popcorn is becoming a bigger business other than just a movie theatres.  Check this article out.

The ban on Cuba Cigars is over... sort of.    The Obama's administration easing of trade restrictions takes effect Friday.    It means Americans can bring $100 worth of tobacco into the United States.   So that can buy a few cigars.

courtesy photo

The former executive director of the State Historical Society is now the head of the Springfield Area Arts Council.   Jon Austin started his job with the beginning of the new year. 

He also was founding director of the Museum of Funeral Customs. 

Austin replaces Penny Wollan-Kriel who retired in the fall.

Bill Wheelhouse / WUIS / Illinois Issues

A large scale hog farm is on hold temporarily and low oil prices may be dampening business interest in fracking in Illinois on this week's WUIS/SJR Business Report.  Bill Wheelhouse chats with Tim Landis.

Governor Pat Quinn will spend his final hours in office in Chicago while Bruce Rauner is inaugurated as the State's 42nd Governor in Springfield.

Bill Wheelhouse and Amanda Vinicky discuss final actions by the outgoing Governor and the first likely actions by the incoming Governor.

WUIS will have live coverage of the inaugural at 11:50 a.m.

Rich Berning

The recent Obama administration announcement of easing trade and travel restrictions certainly caught Rich Berning's attention.  The Springfield man had just visited the island nation in November.  Bill Wheelhouse, who visited Cuba in 1999 with Governor George Ryan, chatted with Berning.  We also have a few photos of those old American cars they keep running on the island.

Most area schools are closed today due to the dangerous wind chills.   Springfield District 186 has canceled classes. No school in Chatham Glenwood and Rochester. All other public schools are closed in Sangamon County.  Schools are closed in Jacksonville & Lincoln.

Meteorologist Mike Bardou  says central Illinois will get
progressively colder. Springfield's temperature will fall from about 3 degrees
in the morning to about minus-7 in the afternoon, with wind chills of 22- to
32-below.

A Dallas-based company wants to build an oil pipeline through parts of central and western Illinois.  Bill Wheelhouse talks with Tam Landis about that and other issues on this week's business report:

Bill Wheelhouse headshot
mattpenning.com 2009 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Editor's Note: 
January marks a new phase in our journalism.  Due to the merger between WUIS and Illinois Issues, we now have a number of journalists that enable reporting on a beat model.  A beat allows a reporter to learn events and people more thoroughly than general assignment reporting.  Each reporter is focusing on key issues in the state.  We're calling it the "Illinois Issues Initiative." 

ILLINOIS ECONOMY
Bill Wheelhouse 

Mark Selvaggio at steel business.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

For fans of baseball, the midwinter tradition is underway — counting down the days until the pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

When evaluating Illinois’ recovery from the recession, James Glassman uses a baseball analogy. The head economist for commercial banking with JP Morgan Chase says Illinois has only reached the fifth inning in the recovery.

northwestern.edu

Both of Springfield's major hospitals will be offering trauma care starting New Years Day.   

The State Journal Register reports that HSHS St. John's Hospital will compete with Memorial Medical Center in offering trauma care.  In the past the hospitals alternated annually providing care to those seriously injured. 

Flickr/Images_of_money

A new report predicts an uptick in home sales in Illinois in the coming year. Although a number of potential homebuyers are still sitting on sidelines. The forecast for housing prices in the coming year shows some increases, but not the kind of gains experienced in the last couple of years. 

Geoffrey Hewings, Director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois says while the housing market continues to recovery, he says millennials would rather rent than buy.

Route 66 University

Bel-Aire Motel residents caught off guard by demolition announcement on this week's Business Report.

Tim Landis and Bill Wheelhouse also talk about the closing of a century old business in the community and the sales of Road Rangers in the area.

gcak12.org

The leading cause of on-the-job deaths in Illinois is vehicle accidents. 

172 people died on the job in Illinois in 2013, up  from the year before.   Almost a third of those deaths came from transportation accidents.   Laura Johnson is the Executive Director of the Iowa-Illinois Safety council.

"It really doesn't matter where your employee gets hurt does it? It is still a catastrophic event for your organizations. So we really push defensive driver training for our member companies".

With the death of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, it would seem that the next step is for the Governor to appoint a successor.  However, election officials are unsure about the process:

The constitution says the governor would choose someone to fill out the term until the next election. Except the term ends January 12  and an election has already been held.   State Board of Elections Director Rupert Borgsmiller says they are not sure how to handle it:

"Nobody knows at this point by looking at the  constitution and the election code itself"

Tim Landis chats with Bill about the purchase of the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel, layoffs at Benedictine University and Viper Mine Files Its Application for Expansion.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Senate has passed legislation that would raise the state's minimum wage. The legislation would by 2019 increase Illinois' minimum wage to $11 an hour for workers 18 and older. The bill won't impact Chicago's decision to raise its wage to $13 by 2019.  The House adjourned without voting on it.

Lisa Madigan
Marsy's Law for Illinois

Attorney General Lisa  Madigan says if the state supreme court agrees to an expedited hearing...  a ruling on the state's pension law could come by January,.

Timothy Killeen
Bill Wheelhouse / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Timothy Killeen, who has been selected as the next president of the University of Illinois travelled to the university's three campuses. Killeen who will be the 20th U of I President has been the vice chancellor for research at the State University of New York.   A researcher in geophysics and space sciences, he will start his new job in July.  He spoke about his goals and what he sees for the University's Springfield campus.

UIS.edu

The University of Illinois system has hired State University of New York Vice Chancellor for Research Timothy L. Killeen as its next president.  

The university announced Wednesday that the 62-year-old Killeen will become president when current President Robert Easter retires in June.  

The 67-year-old Easter became president in 2012 during a period of turmoil.  
 Both of his predecessors, Michael Hogan and B. Joseph White, resigned under pressure. Easter is credited by many with overseeing a relatively calm period.  

An effort to bring a high voltage power line across Illinois and other states is getting a discussion tonight (Monday) in Missouri. 

That state's public service commission begins hearings on a request by Clean Line Energy partners to build a high voltage power line from wind turbines in Kansas to Illinois, Missouri and Indiana.      The  plan would bring the lines near Hannibal then through Pike, Greene and Macoupin  counties among others in central Illinois.

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Bruce Rauner indicated he had called House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton.

However, a couple of reports indicated that neither Madigan nor Cullerton spoke with the Governor-Elect.   Reports in the State Journal Register and Chicago Sun Times say Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman has no record of any calls from Rauner

MacMurray College in Jacksonville is getting rid of ten academic programs due to low enrollment. 

The Board of Trustees approved the phase out of the programs, which include Elementary Education, English and History.

A statement from the school says the changes affect about 15 students.  Those currently enrolled in the programs will have opportunities to complete their degrees and no new students will be admitted.  The college says no layoffs are involved.

Grocery store hiring part of the better jobless rate,  Bunn-O-Matic buys building on west side and a chance to save an 1840's home from the wrecking ball on today's WUIS-State Journal Register business report.

 

Amazon Inc. says it plans to open its first facility in Illinois next year in a move that would create 1,000 jobs.  

The announcement comes a week from election day as Governor Pat Quinn touts economic growth and his Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, has criticized the slow growth of employment in Illinois.

The company made the announcement about the $75 million project on Tuesday. The jobs figure would be reached by 2017.  

Major cuts are coming to Springfield's Benedictine University.    The school is laying off three quarters of its full time employees, cutting out undergraduate education and getting rid of its sports programs.  The school will no longer focus on the traditional student market, but instead will make its focus on adults.    The campus issued a statement last night.    Springfield branch campus President Michael Bromberg tells WUIS that 75 of the 100 full time workers will be laid-off next year when the school ends its traditional programs for students who are just out of high school.

In this week's Business Report Tim Landis discusses a chain establishment leaving town, the future of a Route 66 landmark and work is set to begin on an historic site.

Illinois had one of the stronger showings in the nation in new jobs last month and it led the way nationally with a a 2.5% drop in unemployment from September of last year to September of this year.

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Illinois added more than 19,000 jobs last month, marking the second largest increase in the nation. 

Illinois trailed only Texas in month over month employment.

The biggest gains came in  professional and business services.   That includes more accounting jobs which have increased in the Chicago area.  

Notes On The Final Governor Debate

Oct 21, 2014
wttw Chicago Tonight

The debate portion of the Illinois governor’s race is over. Monday night's debate may have given voters a little clarity.

Now - that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any mud-slinging or repetitive campaign refrains. There was a lot of that. But we did get some answers on issues that have popped up in all three debates. Like what Governor Pat Quinn would do when the 5 percent income tax rate ends in 2015.

QUINN: We need to maintain the income tax, at the same time give annual, direct, property tax relief - a 500 dollar refund - to every single homeowner in this state.

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